The Great Reality TV Experiment

Ah! TVs! And Kevin James! Some lazy posts lately. Let’s get back to the writing stuff!

Or, how about reading stuff?

Teaching gives me the opportunity to reread and re-teach some of the classics. Right now, I’m in my third week of laying down a solid foundation from upon which to teach Homer’s epic poem, The Odyssey. We don’t read the whole Odyssey. The entire book is almost six hundred pages of ancient Greek verse. We read excerpts from a few of the The Odyssey’s many books. About a hundred and twenty pages worth. Not a bad sampling. Then we watch the movie and write essays about all of it.


I love The Odyssey. I even love the word. The way it sounds. The way it rolls off the tongue. And I love Odysseus, the epic’s all-too human hero (you see, he’s got flaws and stuff – that what makes him a true hero, his humility, his humanity). The Gods are JEALOUS of the man’s vigor. His love for life. His obscene thought that he was equal or better than the Gods got them all riled up. How dare the vain man boast that he is better than an immortal?

Spicing things up, interfering with human triumph (and loss), the Gods use Odysseus as their own reality TV show experiment, pitting him against monsters, and ferocious oceans, and wily, seductresses. He engages in a ten-year struggle to escape the war-time horrors of Troy and make his way home to his beloved wife, Penelope. Worse, but awesome for drama, Penelope is besieged by 12o suitors, all eager to marry her and seize Odysseus’ kingdom of Ithaca. They eat her food and drink her wine, in excess, taking advantage of the laws of the land which demanded a widowed queen must be wed and giving the suitors the right to lounge about until she chooses one to take her long-missing husband’s place.

(Odysseus and his bow get mighty bloody. Best. Ending. Ever!)

That reads like a mighty fine movie pitch, doesn’t it? Why hasn’t some Hollywood producer gotten behind a big-budget screen version? We watch a version from the Sy-fy Channel. Simply titled, THE ODYSSEY, it’s a nineties production starring Armand Assante (who is fabulous) and a host of other Greeks. Eric Roberts chews it up as one of the evil suitors. The CGI is nineties bad, but the acting is lively and when the production uses real SFX in conjunction with the clunky CGI, they sometimes pull off stylized charm. It makes the movie fun.

We all know the whole book is better than the movie thing and it definitely applies here. The Odyssey is a masterpiece for a reason. It’s not only old and historical, it’s fun and pulpy. Odysseus is a charismatic dude. The action is fierce. Romantic interludes are sexy. It’s a great read.

The text is a joy to teach. I love the front-loading, where we study Chaos and Gaia and the Titans and the Olympians. I love transporting a crew of kids back four thousand years and reading interesting poetry about monsters and Odysseus’ cunning. I can’t believe I get paid to do it.

(In the beginning…there was Chaos!)

Tonight is a very important TV night. Survivor starts while Big Brother and America’s Got Talent comes to an end. That’s way too much TV! I like to get to sleep as early as I can (10ish), but this lineup is compromising my chances of getting a long night’s sleep.

We are gonna start at 8 and see how long we can go. If Michelle or I go down early, we’ll have to catch up on our DVR tomorrow, except tomorrow, the endings of AGT and BB may be revealed in class (some kids watch the shows). We have to decide which to watch tonight.

Till tomorrow, Loyal Reader! Survivor is calling…


One Response to “The Great Reality TV Experiment”

  1. I am really impressed with yyour writing skills as well as with the layout
    on your weblog. Is this a paid theme or did you moify it yourself?
    Anyway keep up tthe nice quality writing, it’s rare too see a great blog like this one these days.

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